Today's mood

सानू सौदा नहीं पुखदा, सानू सौदा नहीं पुखदा...

रवि तो चेनाब पुछदा,

"की हाल है सतलुज दा?"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Point 5203

“Amol! If you don’t come out I am going to stop talking to you.”  A flustered Usha tired of her son’s tantrums sat on the bed. She spoke the name Amol with an elongated ‘o’. Her one hand had a small plate with chapatti and dal in it, her other hand was being frantically used either to brush off her hair out of her eyes or to search for Amol.

The seven year old Amol came out of his hiding. He was hiding under an iron chair that was overstuffed with clothes that had been washed today. His sweet voice was enough to melt any heart, here we are talking about a mother’s heart- it was liquidized. “I am sorry mumma. Don’t say I won’t talk to you anymore.”

The middle aged woman, mother of two brothers Aman and Amol, had moist eyes. She started feeding the young Amol with her own hands. His mouth was over-stuffed with food. “Amol take the last morsel and I won’t feed you till night.”

“Make me a promise that you won’t cry when I don’t come out of hiding?” The sweet young-ling had a few tricks up his sleeves. He found his mother's tears an emotional torture that rips his peace and happiness apart.

“Ok. Pakkaa.”, with a smile on her face Usha fed the last morsel to Amol.


“Mumma, I want to go to NDA. Dada also went to join the Air Force right? Why are you stopping me?” Amol was having a difficult time make his mother bringing her round to his views. Amol wanted to join the Defence Academy and his mother was antagonistic to the idea. 

“No. You won’t. I do not want to send both of my sons away from me. You have cleared the engineering entrance get a good college and study. I want you to stay close to me. Your dada will be away fighting for his ideals and his country, at least I will have you with me.” Usha was in no mood to listen to any of her son’s point.

“Mumaa, dada is happy and papa is supportive of my decision too.” The teenage youngster looked at Aman, his elder brother, and his father S. P. Sharma for some support.

“Don’t either of you dare to come in between me and my son there won’t be anyone worse than me!” Usha threatened both Satpal and Aman with a lethal expression. The look was a stare down even for a roaring lion. Aman who had just raised his hand to support Amol, quickly crashed his hands onto his laps. Satpal and Aman shared a quick glance at each other and remained seated at their positions quitely. “In case anyone of you want to eat, the food will be served in fifteen minutes. I am not going to ask a second time.”

Late in the night when everyone had retired to their rooms Satpal stroked Usha's forehead and uttered, “Let the child make his own path. If he wants to join the army why should we stop him? He won’t go unless you give him the permission, you know right?”

Usha started crying and after a few words of consolation Satpal fell asleep; Usha cried for a long time. When Satpal woke up in the morning Usha was no where in sight. Satpal went to the children’s room to see Usha sleeping peacefully on Amol’s bed. Satpal’s lips parted to reveal a highly content smile.


The 300 plus bodies of flesh and blood who took their first step in 1991 are marching to the “antim pagh” of the National Defence Academy. Today Usha looks at the finest men of the Indian population; even calling them the finest men on this planet won’t be a stretched truth. Three years ago the 300 bodies of flesh and bones made a decision and crossed the first step into the academy that teaches them everything life has to offer. These three years have prepared them for anything and everything that life may throw upon them. These gentlemen are a symbol of honor and pride - the virtues which lasts longer than any other mortal attribute. Among st such glorious men Usha's eyes are riveted on her son.

A proud Usha Sharma pins the stars on her son’s uniform. She has moist eyes. “You know right this mess serves the best food you will find in the whole of the world?” Amol said with a smile on his face on seeing the hidden tiffin in her mother’s bag. “However extra food is always welcome!” 


A disturbed Aman was on the line, “I heard you are being posted to Siachen. Is that true?”

Amol replied back with a hint of surprise in his tone, “Really? How come these fellow know where I want to go? ”

“Stop kidding Amol. You know that mother won’t take the news lightly. Given her affection for you, I expect a bit of tears and surely a tantrum.”

“You wish she threw the same affection towards you, right? Don’t worry and don’t tell her where I am posted. I will give her a call once in two weeks to let her know I am fine.”


Siachen is a not a place, at least not a place as we mention in common terminology. It is a part of the 2 trillion cubic volume of frozen water. It is a pole itself in “the third pole”. It is the highest battleground on earth, and the elemental forces of nature are the harshest that mankind shall ever endure and still live. After three weeks of acclimatization at the Siachen Battle School Amol made way for the Siachen Glacier. He was scheduled to stay there for 90 days, and regardless of what his relatives and parents said he didn't withdraw his name from the Siachen posting.

On the 82nd day he was asked to extend his stay by a month, to which he readily agreed. Look from a common and basic point of view, what is there at 7000mt height apart from kilometers and kilometers of solid ice; a week in Siachen and your eyes will long for any color apart from white. A 90 day stay is sufficient for you to start hating the most serene of all colors, yet here we have a gentleman who extended his stay on this barren land for another 30 days.

On his last day another soldier named Sahil asked Amol, “Sir, what made you stay here for another 30 days?”

“Siachen is no ordinary place. It may be different geographically than the rest of the places on earth where military serves, however no other place makes you feel special. Siachen is a place where only men of steel volunteer to serve and when you leave this place you feel as if there is no one equal to your standards in the whole of nation. You walk the whole territory of the Indian country with your held high and an expression that you are an emperor. 30 extra days of an emperor are welcome Sahil!”


Aman and Amol had come to their parents place to spend their holidays. Every year both of the brothers used to apply for holidays at the same time in the month of may.

On 16th of may, 1999 the land-line at their house rang the person on the other side asked for Aman. Aman was asked to report immediately to the air force base.

Minutes later the land-line rang again to ask for Amol. He was being asked to report to Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir, instead of Delhi.

The rest of the evening was drained in murmurs and chatter of what had happened and what was about to happen. Usha had a flying feeling that this is going to be a long lasting memory for her. She cooked up the favorite sweet of both brothers. The next morning both the brothers woke early and started for their destinations.


The last twenty days have been nothing less than hell for Amol. There hasn't been a moments peace in the valley to be experienced. Everyday new news used to pour in- either the news regarding new posts that have been discovered under the Pakistan’s control or colleagues who died fighting for one of the decimal numbers. Amol hurriedly finished his letter to his mother, “Don't worry about me. I hope to be back in Delhi by the end of this month. Then you can fix my marriage in case you all are in a hurry.


June 10, 1999

Captain Amol Kalia, along with 13 of his men started for the mission of freeing point 5203. Amol Kalia was specially called from Delhi on account of his in-depth knowledge and experience of mountain warfare.

Indian army was battling on various fronts inside the valley. The nation’s attention was held by the fighting in the Drass sector, however the heavily entrenched Pakistani forces on the tougher terrain of Batalik was turning out to be a grave for the Indian soldiers. Climbing already occupied peaks by enemy forces in Batalik is like standing in no mans land and shouting anti-pakistan slogans. Bullets slip by your ears and legs only to hit you somewhere in the chest; do the physics and add to those bullets a few more speed when they are being fired from 16000+ feet height.

Point 5203 was a military post in the Batalik sector. The soldiers of the northern infantry of Pakistan sat on the top of this ice clad peak. The 14 Indian soldiers of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry led by Amol Kalia ascended the peak in the dead of the night to face a pack of well hidden, bunker-ed and armored 25 soldiers. What are the odds? When you deal with brave rare human you don’t look up to statistics, here we are talking of the rarest of the rare human.

Despite the well entrenched enemies, the 12 infantry team holed the 25 odd soldiers in their bunkers. For how long could they do that was the question? The light machine gun detachment personnel to Amol died in the wee hours of 11th june. Kalia picked up the machine gun and opened fire on the enemy bunkers as Hollywood movies often show. A desperate hero surrounded by enemy picks up a machine gun lying on the floor to open fire on anyone and everyone. The only difference being here people do die when hit by these bullets. Kalia himself shot five men with the LMG before succumbing to his injuries and falling dead. 

Neither of the 14 men survived the bullets, nor did the 25 Pakistani men. Point 5203 was finally captured at the cost of 14 Indian lives, and by taking 25 Pakistani lives. 

Usha didn’t cry when she received the news of her dead son. She didn’t speak a word for the next 11 days. She hardly ate, she hardly drank and she hardly cried. On 21st june, 1999 when Amol’s body was handed over to his family Usha broke down. Wars are fought by warriors, and tears are shed by their mothers.

“I promised you son when you go into hiding I won’t cry, and when you have returned…” the rest of the line was drowned by her cries. The near by families were overwhelmed by Usha's grief. No mother has ever been so distressed, no father has ever been so proud and no sibling has ever been so lonely.

Satpal amidst tears in his own eyes bends over to retrieve a hand written piece of paper from Amol Kalia’s bullet holed dress- “Mother India doesn't want cowards.” When Amol was born little did this history teacher knew, that one day his son would fill up the pages of history. The way he lived; the way he died; the way he is immortal even in death is an indelible truth in itself.